Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants

LCL 70: 308-309

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ἐνταῦθα, καὶ πτῶκα καὶ δορκάδα καὶ στρουθὸν 6καὶ ἕτερα τῶν θηρίων. ἀλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν ἄδηλον εἰ ἐκτοπίζει που πιόμενα· (διὰ γὰρ τὸ τάχος δύναται μακράν τε καὶ ταχὺ παραγενέσθαι), ἄλλως τε κεἰ δι᾿ ἡμερῶν τινων πίνουσι, καθάπερ καὶ τὰ ἥμερα παρὰ τρίτην ἢ τετάρτην ποτίζεται ταῦτα· τὸ δὲ τῶν ἄλλων ζώων, οἷον ὄφεων σαυρῶν καὶ τῶν τοιούτων, φανερὸν ὅτι ἄποτα. τοὺς δὲ Λίβυας λέγειν ὅτι τὸν ὄνον ἐσθίει ταῦτα ὃς καὶ παρ᾿ ἡμῖν γίνεται, πολύπουν τε καὶ μέλαν συσπειρώμενον εἰς ἑαυτό· τοῦτον δὲ πολύν τε γίνεσθαι σφόδρα καὶ ὑγρὸν τὴν φύσιν εἶναι.

7Δρόσον δὲ ἀεὶ πίπτειν ἐν τῇ μὴ ὑομένῃ πολλήν, ὥστε δῆλον ὅτι τὸν μὲν φοίνικα καὶ εἴ τι ἄλλο φύεται ἐν ἀνύδροις τό τε ἐκ τῆς γῆς ἀνιὸν ἐκτρέφει καὶ πρὸς τούτῳ ἡ δρόσος. ἱκανὴ γὰρ ὡς κατὰ μεγέθη καὶ τὴν φύσιν αὐτῶν ξηρὰν οὖσαν καὶ ἐκ τοιούτων συνεστηκυῖαν. καὶ δένδρα μὲν ταῦτα πλεῖστα καὶ ἰδιώτατα. περὶ δὲ τοῦ σιλφίου λεκτέον ὕστερον ποῖόν τι τὴν φύσιν.

IV. Ἐν δὲ τῇ Ἀσίᾳ παρ᾿ ἑκάστοις ἴδι᾿ ἄττα τυγχάνει· τὰ μὲν γὰρ φέρουσιν αἱ χῶραι τὰ δ᾿


Enquiry Into Plants, IV. iv.

abundant, and that there are various other peculiar plants there, and that there are found the hare1 gazelle ostrich and other animals. However it is uncertain whether these do not migrate in order to find drink somewhere, (for by reason of their fleetness they are able to appear at a distant place in a short space of time), especially if they can go for several days without drinking, even as these animals, when domesticated, are only given drink every third or fourth day. While as to other animals, such as snakes lizards and the like, it is plain that they go without drink. And we are told that according to the Libyans, these animals eat the wood-louse, which is of the same kind that is found also in our country, being black, with many feet, and rolling itself into a ball; this, they say, is extremely common and is juicy by nature.

They say also that dew always falls abundantly in the land in which no rain falls, so that it is plain that the date-palm, as well as anything else which grows in waterless places, is kept alive by the moisture which rises from the ground, and also by the dew. For the latter is sufficient, considering2 the size of such trees and their natural character, which is dry and formed of dry components. And trees of that character are most abundant in, and most specially belong to such country. The character of the silphium we must discuss later.

Of the trees and herbs special to Asia.

IV. In different parts of Asia also there are special trees, for the soil of the various regions produces some but not others. 3Thus they say that

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.theophrastus-enquiry_plants.1916